In the end, The X-Files‘ four-part revival arc known as “My Struggle 1-4” is very appropriately titled. These episodes are a fucking struggle…in every possible way. It is a struggle to make sense of the narrative. It is a struggle to find the point of any of it. It is a struggle to reconcile what Chris Carter chose to give us with the thousands of other better scenarios out there. The one good thing is knowing that the struggle is over. But even feeling any type of closure posed a challenge until Gillian Anderson herself indicated that she was unsatisfied, too.
I want to move on from this show so badly, but I think I have one last rant in me. Thanks for joining me as I angrily yell my final goodbye to The X-Files.
Chris Carter thinks he’s George R.R. Martin all of a sudden. He kills off so many characters in this episode, and much of it is not for the sake of the story — it’s mostly an attempt at cheap shock and awe.
Let’s do a body count:
Mr. Y: Dead
Erika Price: Head exploded
Scully’s character: Assassinated
My ability to rationalize an ending that makes sense and doesn’t send me into a pit of despair: Flatlining
Carter says that anything is possible, and maybe some of these people aren’t dead — referring mostly to fan favorites, Reyes and Skinner — as if that makes any of it remotely better. We know this is one of his frequently used tactics. He has many redundant, tired, worn-out “tricks” up his wetsuit sleeves. Killing characters, only to hint in the most aggravatingly obnoxious way that they might not be dead, is just a way for him to excuse his poor decisions. You’re upset that Reyes gets shot in the head? But maybe she survives. Carter views this as an acceptable way for you to get past his missteps.
It doesn’t work like that, dude.
It’s just another instance in a long line of instances over the years where Carter glaringly exposes his blatant disregard for the intelligence of his viewers. It’s something that has fed his complacency and furthered his laziness as a writer. If he treated his audience as the thoughtful, invested fans that we are, he wouldn’t be able to make some of the choices that he has made.
As an aspiring fiction writer myself, I am constantly thinking about the truth of my characters. And since The X-Files is a show that lauds the importance of the truth above all else, you would think that Carter would be beholden to it, as well. Nope. He thinks he is above it all. It is this ego that has ultimately destroyed his legacy.
New Baby Who Dis
The revival made me start to think that maybe I don’t actually even like this show — maybe I just like the characters. And to that, Carter says, “Hold my beer,” and annihilates years of character development with shitty dialogue and an idiotic “twist.” A twist that was used almost exactly the same way 17 years ago, by the way. I’m telling you the man does not have an original thought left in that saltwater-logged brain of his.
He makes Scully essentially disown her miracle child, over whom she has spent almost half her life being heartbroken. Nice try, Christopher! What you wrote does not represent the Scully I fell in love with and have come to know over these many years. We have no choice but to either rationalize our asses off as to why she would behave this way or completely ignore it all together. You do not have to sacrifice one child for the other. If you did William justice in the first place, you wouldn’t feel the need to “replace” him.
Scully is 54 years old. Much of the season, both Mulder and Scully comment on their “old age.” There is a whole episode that highlights it (11×09). So now, Carter has left us with an image of these two chasing around a toddler and being in their fucking 70s when the kid is in high school.
Just because it’s possible for a woman this age to conceive doesn’t make it the right ending. Just because Carter can explain it away with alien DNA for the millionth time doesn’t make it the right ending. Just because he’s the creator and can do whatever he wants doesn’t make it the right ending. And I think he will realize this if he ever gets his head out of his ass and lets go of his stubbornness. (I would love to be a fly on the wall when he has this “I’ve made a huge mistake” epiphany.)
Making Scully miraculously pregnant (again) at the age of 54 to fix the William storyline is like putting a Band-Aid on a hemorrhaging wound. And not even a name brand one — a generic one with, like, very little adhesive. He had fucked up the William plot going back to when he made Scully give him up, but up until “My Struggle 4,” I still saw it as something that could be salvaged. Carter’s ending shows me he doesn’t have the ability or the talent to do so. He wouldn’t recognize a well-written ending if it slapped him upside the head.
Knowing that Carter had all this in mind when writing the bedroom scene on 11×03, “Plus One,” makes that dialogue even worse; and I didn’t even think that was possible. Carter might think a new baby makes everything better, but do Mulder and Scully? In my opinion, no.
Does Carter think that, because there is a baby on the way, we know Mulder and Scully will be together, and that this should satisfy shippers? Listen: You had many shippers denying the break-up all through the revival. We don’t need a baby to imagine Mulder and Scully living together happily ever after. We don’t actually need anything to convince us of that. It just is.
Scully loved Emily as a mother, even though she didn’t carry her and had only known her for about a week. She said giving William up was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do. It was something that we had to watch her suffer over for years. The Scully in 11×05, “Ghouli,” and even the Scully five minutes before this ending on the dock, was desperate to protect her son. So, the shift we see is jarring and confusing.
Sure, she could be doing it to spare Mulder’s feelings, who, out of fucking nowhere, only relates to being a dad. “What am I if I’m not a father?” This line is as false to me as Scully’s dismissal. Not because I don’t think he thought of himself as William’s father — I do. The way David Duchovny has played Mulder since William’s birth makes me well aware of his love for his son. I have felt his grief and guilt about William since Season 9. Carter puts this line in solely to sell his idiotic baby reveal. I see right through you, sir.
The same goes for Scully. I’m not going to do all the work for Carter and reason these misrepresentations away. I’ve been doing this for a long time with this show, and I’m tired of it. We shouldn’t have to work this hard to make sense of characters with whom we’ve spent 20+ years. I’m not saying I want everything spelled out for me; it’s just that I’d like to save my brainpower for interesting writing and intelligent twists, not shit that I’ve known about characters I’ve lived with in my heart and soul for so long.
Choose Your Own Ending
Carter has written some decent endings before: “Existence,” “The Truth,” I Want To Believe. Notice how I say “decent.” These are not amazing episodes of television by any stretch (“The Truth” is basically a 2-hour “previously on The X-Files…”), but there are kisses, as well as some hope and happiness for our heroes who have lost so much.
“My Struggle 4” is like the antithesis of “Existence.”
This baby announcement is supposed to be good news…I think. I don’t see it that way. Scully was terrified about how William came to be; there is nothing to say this pregnancy won’t be fraught with the same exact fears. How her painful doubts only apply to William now makes no sense at all.
Not only are we robbed of a final kiss, but this ridiculous plot twist comes in the wake of so much tragedy. I’m sorry, I’m unable to hitch my happily-ever-after wagon to this replacement baby star. To me, it’s not hopeful in any way, but I suspect that Carter thinks it’s supposed to leave us feeling hopeful.
If, like me, you are unsatisfied with this ending, you have to choose another one. And any of the aforementioned are good candidates. Or go totally away from canon and live with a fan fiction ending. Do whatever you need to do to move on with some peace, and escape the evil clutches of this spiteful showrunner and his terrible ideas.
Final Grade: F
I hated every single second of this finale. I’m serious. There was not one thing I liked about it. (Well, maybe that hooded sweater Scully wore.) Every part that should’ve been enjoyable was ruined in one way or another. There was a sad, rushed attempt at redeeming Reyes before she was shot in the fucking head; so, no, I don’t feel good about any of that. Same with Skinner. He was helping Mulder and Scully in the end, but was then run over because a trained FBI agent was overpowered by an old, decrepit man.
I should’ve loved the scene between Mulder and William, but the whole time I kept worrying that Scully wouldn’t get the same opportunity. And I was right. William never revealed his real self to her, and that cuts deep. Why give Mulder that chance and not Scully? Carter really is a sadist when it comes to Scully. There is no end to the bad things he will let happen to her or the good things he will deny her.
Even though I hate the idea of the new baby, I should’ve been happy with their embrace at the end, right? Wrong. The timing of Scully telling Mulder about the baby immediately following William’s “death” is abhorrent. And coming off the heels of her complete 180 about William’s existence taints it even further.
Yeah, I said “taint.” I get why that word was used so frequently this season.
I couldn’t even enjoy David and Gillian’s brilliant acting in this final scene. I definitely saw it, and it was incredible; but the falseness of Carter’s writing, unfortunately, bled through and I could not get past it. To waste talent like theirs is unforgivable, especially when they are giving their all for your shitty story. Gillian was criminally underused on the entire episode — sidelined under the pretense of Scully staying out of danger, even though she’s been by Mulder’s side in the most dangerous situations because of her dedication to him and the truth and the good of all mankind. It also splits them up for the majority of the episode, which was a major disservice on the tenth season finale.
I have to be honest that this review is based on one viewing of this episode. Usually, I watch more than once; but I could not bring myself to do it — and I doubt I ever will. I wouldn’t be confident, normally, to critique something based off an initial gut reaction, but I think that my severe aversion to seeing a single frame of “My Struggle 4” ever again should count as a review in and of itself.
Goodbye, X-Files, and good riddance.